New Fruit Buds (1 Corinthians 12:24-27)

It is now the middle of spring and my persimmon and fig trees, once devoid of leaves, are now spouting numerous new fruit buds and new tender leaves. It was just a few months earlier that each tree was heavy laden with a bumper crop of fruit. Now, after only a few months of the dormancy of winter, the cycle begins again.


From single cell bacteria, to insects, to plants, to the largest mammal, the blue whale, we observe that all living creatures devote a tremendous amount of resources preparing for the next generation. With humans, it can proceed a further step. We spend an extended period of time nurturing the next generation, not only for own children, but often for others.


I have the privilege to work with a young man who will be beginning medical school this fall. After working with him for four years, through college and his gap years, I wrote him a letter of recommendation included as part of his medical school applications. Recently, he stopped by my office to reconnect before he leaves for vacation and medical school. As he was about to leave, I handed him an envelope and embraced him. “This is the letter of recommendation I wrote for you.” As he accepted the letter, I said, “You will be a great physician! I will pray for you. Stay in touch!” A few hours later, I received a text message from him.


“Thank you! Your last line brought tears to my eyes!”


I replied to his text, “You are welcome! It is my sincere desire you will be able to do the same for another student some day.”


He texted back, “I hope to do that!”


Our lives can be much richer than we can ever imagine when we invest our time and resources into the lives of others. From Moses grooming his successor Joshua, to the Apostle Paul and his protege Timothy, to the Apostle Peter and his adopted son, John Mark, the Bible is replete with touching examples of leaders deliberately overseeing the spiritual growth and development of the next generation.


I am thankful for the many mentors, pastors, and teachers in my spiritual life who took the time to put me on a straight path to God. I especially admire the many godly young men and women whom I have met, who are mentoring their peers or children younger than they are. They are the foundation and future of our next generation of spiritual leaders in the Church of Jesus Christ.


…But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.
1 Corinthians 12:24-27 (ESV)

Our lives are much more than our own existence. We are a part of the living Church, the Body of Jesus Christ. God’s Creation reminds us that we should all be committed to devoting as much of our own resources and time to nurture the next generation. The last line of my letter to my friend, the medical student, was this: “I sincerely hope that I will be able to work with him in the future, either as a colleague or a mentor.”

I am grateful to God for blessing my life with an opportunity to work with the next generations. By God’s mercy and grace, they will continue to mentor successive generations.




Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.


Ba’Cho and Bama (Revelation 2:17)

His muscular arm gently held the woman close to his side. Their heads tilted toward one another as the worship leader sang a deeply reflective song extolling God’s love for us. As the song ended, the congregation turned to greet one another.


“Jake! Hi!” He extended his hand. As I shook it, he turned to face the woman and said, “This my wife, Sue.”


“Paul! Pleased to meet both of you!” They wore identical leather jackets and under their left lapels, two unfamiliar names.


“May I ask you both a question? What does Ba’Cho and Bama mean?”


Their eyes lit up and Sue flashed an endearing smile. “We belong to a motorcycle riding club, all made up of believers in Jesus Christ. When we joined the group, we were given a new name. I’m from Alabama…” as if on cue, a Southern twang emerged as she pronounced “..bama”. “My husband is part Navajo and his name means wolf in Navajo because he likes to hang back in the pack when we ride.”


“Cool!” I beamed.


“Yeah, but that’s not what’s important.” Jake pointed to the back of their jackets. “This is!” On the back of their jackets were identical embroideries proclaiming their membership in their Christian motorcycle riding club. Around the logo of the Cross and motorcycle, was the Bible verse from Romans.


For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…

Romans 1:16 (ESV)


“Amen brother!” I embraced both of them.


Throughout the Bible, God gave new names to many of His great saints when He revealed a new calling for their lives. Abram (meaning Great Father) became Abraham (Father of Many) when God called him to become the Patriarch of the Jews. Simon (to hear or listen) became Peter (rock) as Jesus confirmed that His Church would not be built upon small unstable stones, like the ones laying on the ground around them, but upon the solid rock of faith, that Peter and all followers of Jesus will possess. Saul (asked of God) became the great Apostle Paul (small or humble) when Jesus met him and he was converted on the road to Damascus.


…To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.

Revelation 2:17 (ESV)


If you have confessed and repented of your sins and accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, your name is eternally recorded the the Book of Life. But God also promises us a new name, known only to Him, to all those who remain steadfast in their faith during times of persecution, reflecting our new character and identity in Jesus Christ.


Ba’Cho and Bama.


I enjoyed learning about the origins of their new names and their eagerness to share the Gospel with their fellow bikers. But even before I learned of their new names, I already knew their true identities- my brother and sister in Jesus Christ!




Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.

“Congratulations! We Are A Family!” (Colossians 1:21-22)

We recently brought home a new dog to our family. My daughter and I attended a pet expo where we visited dozens of shelters and rescue organizations. There were many beautiful animals but my daughter quickly spied her new love and instantly bonded with her. When my daughter and I arrived home, my wife called out to my son to meet our new dog. As soon as he saw her, he shouted exuberantly, “Congratulations! We are a family!”


We had a dog seven years ago and my son remembers him very well. That Christmas, when we posed for our traditional family photo, we included the dog. For complex reasons, we had to return the dog to the breeder after six months. Since then, our family photos did not include a dog. That photo was always a painful reminder that our family was once one more. My son’s astute comment was more than perceptive.


We welcomed our new dog as an immediate member of our family. Isn’t this how our Heavenly Father welcomes us when we confess and repent of our sins and accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior?


And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him…

Colossians 1:21-22 (ESV)


We offered our love to our new dog which she gladly accepted and immediately became a part of our family. God offered eternal life, salvation and His peace to me if I would confess and repent of my sins and accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. For many years, I refused to believe that a merciful and graceful God could be so loving to me. But the moment I did this, I became a member of the family of God! In God’s family, He loves me unconditionally and always desires to spend time with me.




In Jesus Christ, we are a family!


Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.



Home Is A Safe Place (Psalms 91:1-2)

The small dog nervously shook as my daughter caressed her in her lap. It was less than thirty minutes after we signed the papers and paid for the adoption of the dog. We were leaving a convention center showcasing a pet expo, filled with thousands of people and hundreds of animals. It was a barrage of noise, scurrying figures, unfamiliar scents, and now, she was in a car with two complete strangers.


“Sweetheart, I would be shaking also if I were in her place!” My daughter continued to softly stroke the dog’s back. “We need to let her know that her new home is a safe place.” I lovingly looked at my daughter, as she nodded in agreement, and I said, “It is true for dogs and humans.”


Our new dog was from a rescue shelter. Like many animals residing in these shelters, prior to their rescue, their earlier lives were broken, often filled with abuse and disease. In addition to the physical hardships they endured, their emotional stability was fragile or broken. Fear was the norm. They have never known a home or a safe place. During these initial hours of transition, it was critical to create an environment where our dog felt safe and loved.


He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

Psalms 91:1-2 (ESV)


Our Heavenly Father cares for us in a similar manner. Fears of the unknown. Uncertainties about our lives. Relationships with whom we have placed our trust have led to hurt and betrayal. Our hopes and aspirations, our trust, our faith must be rooted in the permanence and unfailing love of God. Only He can provide us a safe home within His loving kingdom. Only God can be our refuge and fortress.


The instant we confess and repent of our sins and accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, God adopts us as His children. He welcomes us with love because His perfect love casts away all fear!


Praise God!


Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.


Surprise Me! (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

On July 8th, 2016, I entered the following prayer in my journal, exactly as it is reproduced below.


Prayer Request Date of Initial Prayer Bible Book and Verse Bible Verse Notes
Dog for the family 07.08.2016 Ecclesiastes 3:11 (ESV) He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. In Your perfect timing and if it is in Your will, Lord, You will allow this to happen. Surprise me!


On April 28, 2018, this prayer was answered and we welcomed home a new dog, Honey, to our family! Through the nearly two years of prayer, I admit my faith often wavered. After one year of no answers from God, I even added the last line in the notes, “Surprise me!” Indeed, God did!


Our family owned a dog nearly seven years ago. Unfortunately the dog and our family were not a good match and we, regrettably, returned him to the breeder. My daughter was always very sad about this painful episode and she still longed for a dog of her own. Given our family history, it was not promising for this to happen, at least not before my daughter graduated from high school in less than two years. It took God to intervene in most surprising and unexpected manner. A serious health crisis now afflicted our daughter. Our family has met with many physicians and friends, seeking wise counsel for treatment options. Our Church has also surrounded us with prayers, love, and support. A dear brother in our Lord Jesus Christ recently prayed with me as I shared with him the health issues my daughter was currently experiencing. After the prayer, he said, “Your daughter and family are going through a season of change with God.”


To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven…

Ecclesiastes 3:1 (KJV)


It is a season of change as my daughter becomes a young woman and readies her applications to college. It is a season of change with an unexpected health crisis for my daughter. As our family and friends come together to support her as she bravely faces her continuing treatments, we knew that few things would give her more comfort and happiness than to once again have a dog. God is taking us through this season of change for many reasons, but the most unexpected reason was to lead us down a path to get a new dog for my daughter and family. God, once again, surprised all of us by answering a prayer in a most astounding and wondrous manner. Why? God loves to bless us, His children. He makes all things beautiful in His time, to fill the void in our hearts that can only be satisfied by Him.


Thank you God for always surprising us with your love, grace, and mercy!


Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.


Linus and Lucy (1 John 4:7)

The lights of the church sanctuary dimmed as a respectful hush swept over the congregation. Seconds later, a lone pianist began a familiar melody. His left hand articulated an infectious syncopated beat while his right hand voiced the catchy lead lines. It was the crowd favorite instrumental piece, “Linus and Lucy”, written by the great jazz pianist, Vince Guaraldi, for the television Christmas special, “A Charlie Brown Christmas”.


Debuting in 1965, this animated masterpiece has become a Christmas tradition for millions throughout the world and no one can hear this song without reliving fond memories of the first time they watched the show. This church was celebrating their annual Christmas pageant and chose to begin their celebration with this iconic song.


My older cousin was a member of this church and served on the worship team. An excellent pianist, he mastered this intricate song as a teenager. Not surprisingly, he was adept at playing many different songs and genres, but this composition was his piece de resistance! Christmas programs, easter programs, church productions, birthday parties, family gatherings…my cousin got a lot of mileage from this song! And we never tired of listening to him! In so many different settings, this song seemed to perfectly fit. He mastered a complex theme, repeated it, then repeated it again!


Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.

1 John 4:7 (ESV)


Some of the greatest saints of the Bible have focused upon the same theme. Moses exhorted the Hebrews to remember how God rescued them from the Egyptians and provided for all of their needs for 40 years of wandering through the desert. The Apostle John’s simple and consistent message, echoed in the Bible verse above, was repeated at every meeting in the last years of his life. “Little children, love one another!” The early Church tradition recorded that his disciples would grow tired of hearing John repeat this at every gathering and asked him, ““Master, why do you always say this?” John replied, “It is the Lord’s command. And if this alone be done, it is enough!”


Love one another.


The simplicity belies the complexity. In every situation and throughout the Apostle John’s five books of the Bible, this theme is pervasive. John learned it directly from His Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He wrote about it and repeated it as often as he could.


Master a complex theme, repeat it, then repeat it again! It is good formula for music and an even better one for our life with God!


Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.


A Very Narrow Window of Credibility (Joshua 14:10-11)


I recently consulted upon a case of a malignant melanoma. When I texted my colleague of the diagnosis, she texted back. “Sad case. Patient was being followed by an older dermatologist who didn’t do anything about this suspicious looking mole.”


“Very sad…” I texted back.


“Yes, she should have retired a long time ago!”


The dismissive text messages from my dermatology colleague was not surprising. All of us must navigate life within a very narrow window of credibility. One is either too young and inexperienced or too old and irrelevant. For professional athletes, the window period of credibility may be as brief as 10 years before injuries and an aging body take its toll. For physicians, how many total hip replacements or face lifts are considered adequate experience? At what age is all this experience negated by the patient’s fear of the physician’s unsteady hands? How long are our skills and credibility relevant to others?


The Bible firmly deals with this issue. The Apostle Paul encouraged his young protege, Timothy, to ignore those who may dismiss his abilities and credibility because of his youth.


Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.

1 Timothy 4:12 (ESV)


Joshua, the chosen successor and leader after Moses, reminded the Israelites that although he was advanced in years, he was still very relevant and very squarely within the window of credibility.


And now, behold, the Lord has kept me alive, just as he said, these forty-five years since the time that the Lord spoke this word to Moses, while Israel walked in the wilderness. And now, behold, I am this day eighty-five years old. I am still as strong today as I was in the day that Moses sent me; my strength now is as my strength was then, for war and for going and coming.

Joshua 14:10-11 (ESV)


How long are our skills and credibility relevant? Who determines the criteria? Do we administer self-examinations? Do we submit ourselves to our peers and competitors, beholden to their own biases and motives? Is there a higher authority that we may seek, one that is a perfect judge and standard bearer?


Only God is the creator and sustainer of our credibility and relevance and He delights in us to use our gifts to bring glory and honor to His Name! When we acknowledge Him as the source and submit our skills to Him, judged in His perfect light, our credibility will be laid bare. By our own efforts, we have no credibility. It is only by confessing and repenting of our sins and submitting ourselves to Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, will we be sanctified.


We live our lives within a very narrow window of credibility.


Thanks be to God that our eternal credibility ultimately rests upon the grace and mercy of God through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ.


Praise God!


Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.


Finish Strong! (Luke 11:24-26)

I love the satisfying feeling when I successfully complete an arduous task and for most of my life, I focused upon this goal. From racing to finish my math assignments in grade school, to seeing my patients and writing my progress notes on the hospital wards, an hour before my residents arrived, there was no end to the relentless pace I had established for myself. It came at a great cost. My relationships which I held so dear: my family, my friends, my colleagues-all degenerated. They were all secondary to my career and all of them knew it. The sad and pathetic result was clear: as my professional success grew, my personal losses accelerated. As my confidence eroded, I searched for answers why there was such a divergence between my life and career.


When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and finding none it says, “I will return to my house from which I came.” And when it comes, it finds the house swept and put in order. Then it goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there. And the last state of that person is worse than the first.

Luke 11:24-26 (ESV)


This passage from the Bible admonishes us that we cannot fulfill our lives with worldly successes. Whenever we drive out an unclean spirit or demon, we must replace it with something stronger or we risk returning to even greater demons. Only Jesus Christ is stronger than all other demons.  When I confessed and repented of my sins and accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, I was able to end this vicious and relentless downward spiral. A believer in Jesus Christ cannot be possessed by a demon or the devil. However, demonic influences abound and all believers must be vigilant of the schemes of Satan, who always seeks to mislead us. After any success, we may be tested by praise (Proverbs 27:21). I repeatedly succumbed to the lie that my success would fulfill my life. In reality, all it did was make me more susceptible to greater failures.


Look to our Lord Jesus Christ and finish strong like He did!


Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.

The Archives (James 1:5)

The other day, I toured the hospital campus where I spent several years of my residency training. Many of the buildings that were present when I trained nearly thirty years ago were either torn down or newer structures stood in their place. As I stumbled through this maze, I spied a familiar building. Peeling paint and boarded up windows, the only identifier was a number on the door. It was the storage archives of the pathology department. Memories of countless hours spent in this dingy, musty room returned.


For over a hundred years, pathologists have been examining tissue specimens that have been fixed and preserved in formalin and then carefully prepared into microscopically thin slices and placed on a glass slide. After a series of chemical stains, the slide is ready to be viewed by the pathologist using a microscope. By law, these microscope slides must be kept for at least ten years. After this time, the slides may be destroyed but the pathology report must be maintained indefinitely. Every few months, a lab technician from the hospital laboratory would visit the storage archives and collect slides for removal that exceeded ten years of storage.


All pathologists maintain a library of microscopic glass slides for study, teaching, and future reference. As a young resident, I was eager to begin my collection. The chief of pathology granted me permission to keep any slides of interesting cases that were designated to be destroyed that month. After reviewing volumes of pathology reports, I created a list of interesting cases and then searched the archives for the corresponding slides. I soon amassed a prodigious collection, one that I have kept to this day. For every disease that I encounter, I have a representative example in my slide collection. I continually add to my slide collection, always thankful for receiving such an excellent foundation from the archives.


If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

James 1:5 (ESV)


Like the steps I took, searching through the archives to create my slide collection, I have also collected Bible verses and organized them for study, teaching and future reference. For every prayer request I have written, God directs me to an appropriate Bible verse which is paired with the request. For every event in my life recorded in these blogs, God has shown me the corresponding lesson based upon the relevant Bible verse. For every action that I take, I ask God to show me a Bible verse that will guide me and establish His plans. Praise God that He is always faithful to answer my prayers with His Word!


My slide collection is the foundation of my professional life.


The Bible is the foundation of my life.




Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.

Why Didn’t He Listen? (2 Chronicles 35:21-23)

Recently, some media pundits have ridiculed Christians who have claimed they have heard God speaking directly to them. Likening the experience to “hearing voices”, their ignorant explanations have dismissed the experience likening it to a psychotic break. The truth is God does speak to all Christian believers through His Holy Spirit, who dwells in all who have confessed and repented of their sins and accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. How does this happen?


I hear God speak to me during times of prayer and by reading and listening to His Word, the Bible. His Holy Spirit illuminates passages to give me direction in my life. God can also speak me to through the voices of others that He sends to me-pastors, fellow believers, and sometimes, even apparent adversaries.


But he sent envoys to him, saying, “What have we to do with each other, king of Judah? I am not coming against you this day, but against the house with which I am at war. And God has commanded me to hurry. Cease opposing God, who is with me, lest he destroy you.” Nevertheless, Josiah did not turn away from him, but disguised himself in order to fight with him. He did not listen to the words of Neco from the mouth of God, but came to fight in the plain of Megiddo. And the archers shot King Josiah. And the king said to his servants, “Take me away, for I am badly wounded.”

2 Chronicles 35:21-23 (ESV)


Josiah was the last good king of Judah. In spite of all his noble and godly accomplishments, he died a painful death. In this Bible passage, Josiah was given a very clear message and warning by the king of Egypt, a potential adversary, to not enter into battle, a message that he ignored leading to a fatal outcome.


Why didn’t he listen?


Many times in my life, I have ignored or dismissed the well-meaning advice of friends or even casual acquaintances or strangers. I wonder how many of these times was God speaking to me? How many times have I dismissed the advice of a perceived adversary because I thought I was deliberately being misled?


Why didn’t I listen?




I was convinced that I knew better and understood my circumstances better than anyone, even God. I relied upon my instincts instead of turning to God in prayer or verifying their advice with God’s Word. I must always hold any voice or advice that I perceive is coming from God to the absolute Truth of God’s Word. God will never contradict His Word and He cannot lie. This is how I should listen when God speaks to me.


Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.